2016 Equity Fellow

Dr Cathy Stone has secured a prestigious Equity Fellowship from the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) worth over $200,000.

The NCSEHE Equity Fellows Programme supports Fellows to undertake rigorous leadership projects that aim to improve the access, participation and success of students from diverse backgrounds in higher education.

Dr Stone will investigate strategies currently being used within online learning at Australian universities and the Open University UK to improve student success and retention in online higher education.

Research shows that despite an increase of student numbers studying online, attrition rates within the open-entry and online space are very high.

"This project aims to significantly improve student success and retention in online higher education by developing a set of national guidelines informed by research evidence," said Dr Stone.

"Studies indicate that retention is around 20% lower in online programs than face to face programs (Moody, 2004; Greenland & Moore, 2014). It is critically important to examine what is happening, what the gaps are and what else is needed to engage and support diverse cohorts of students to stay and succeed," she added.

Dr Stone's background in Social Work includes her role in the School of Humanities and Social Science, as well as counselling and professional roles. Her varied experience has provided detailed insight into the education experience for mature aged students and other diverse student groups.

Dr Stone's project, Opportunity through online learning, will commence in 2016.